Interior Signs Agreement to Evaluate Potential Highway Transfer

Trump Administration to work with Maryland on best future for 19-mile section of Baltimore-Washington Parkway

6/25/2018

Date: June 25, 2018
Contact: Interior_Press@ios.doi.gov 

WASHINGTON – In an effort to carry out President Trump’s call to improve America’s infrastructure and transform our roads and bridges, the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and the state of Maryland have signed a non-binding general agreement to work together to explore possible legislative solutions regarding future management alternatives for a 19-mile portion of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway that is administered by the National Park Service (NPS).

The agreement was signed by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan. While no decisions have been made, the agreement provides a framework for DOI to collaborate with Governor Hogan and the state of Maryland to evaluate all possibilities.

“The most direct interaction that many Americans have with our nation's infrastructure is on their everyday commute,” Secretary Zinke said. “This is an initial step in determining what solution best serves the American taxpayers, including those who rely on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway to travel and commute every day.”

On the American Society of Civil Engineers' 2017 Infrastructure Report Card, America's roads received a "D" grade. The report cites an Urban Mobility Scorecard from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute and INRIX, which indicates that in 2014, congestion cost Americans $160 billion in lost time and spent fuel. The Scorecard lists the Washington, DC-Virginia-Maryland area as the urban area with the highest yearly delay per auto commuter (82 hours), tied for the highest amount of excess fuel per auto commuter (35 gallons), and the highest congestion cost per commuter ($1,834).

The Parkway serves as a major transportation artery into Washington, D.C. with nearly 120,000 commuters daily. Ongoing development has increased traffic volumes and led to regular congestion.

“The Department of the Interior is not in the business of managing commuter highways. We owe it to the 120,000 taxpayers who use the Parkway every day to make the best possible decision to relieve traffic congestion and increase public safety in the region,” Secretary Zinke said. “It makes sense to explore a potential exchange of a highway for land that is more suited to the mission of the National Park Service.”

The Parkway was authorized by Congress in 1950 as an extension of the park system of the District of Columbia to be managed by the NPS. It opened in 1954 and became an alternative to U.S. Route 1, which runs parallel to the west of the Parkway. It is designated as a Historic District and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.